Sitting in a Gough dorm room last year, two Eastern students expressed their disgust for the high cost of college textbooks.
They jokingly brought up the idea of starting a counter-business to give the bookstore a run for their money.
Less than a year later, sophomores Ryan Ward and Justin Tomevi now have their own corporation, Ward and Tomevi, L.L.C.
By November, they will have their first website, halfcollegebooks.com, up and running.
The goal of their website is to offer new college books for cheaper prices. The most intriguing part is that it is nationwide.
“Basically, our business is selling new college textbooks cheaper than college bookstores,” Ward said. “While college bookstores are marking up prices, we’re marking prices down.”
Ward and Tomevi have been able to obtain investments from numerous sources. With those investments, they have hired a web team and a customer service team to handle the basics of the website. They have also made contracts with eight major textbook warehouses nationwide.
The site halfcollegebooks.com also offers video games, video game consoles, books for leisure reading and cd’s. Such an immense website puts halfcollegebooks.com in the same industry as sites such as Amazon.com.
“Get on the halfcollegebooks train,” Ward joked.
“We’re leaving the station, and we’re headed towards success,” Tomevi added.
Although they love to joke around, they are by no means taking halfcollegebooks.com and all their new corporate world challenges lightly. They mean business.
Ward and Tomevi met in an accounting class last fall. When they decided to take their vision of a new business and actually build it, they went to their business professors for advice.
“What I’ve seen with them, throughout the entire process, is that they follow advice; they go to the next step and put in the work,” business professor Bob Thomas said. “They just had the drive and the passion to put this thing together.”
Hours of hard work, reading over corporate paperwork and doing research, kept Ward and Tomevi busy all summer. They put in an estimated average of 30 to 40 hours of work into their business each week of the summer.
“We’ve discussed our idea with many people across different fields and industries, and they think it’s a great idea,” Ward said.
Ward and Tomevi began planning halfcollegebooks.com last school year, when a Facebook group asking “Do you want cheaper college books?” was their only way of telling people about the business.
Today, the in-process website will appear on a Yahoo search.
Commenting on the future state of bookstores and textbook sales, Tomevi said,”The industry is changing. It’s moving away from brick and mortar to the Internet.”
They also have an argument for why a website will outperform the traditional college bookstore.
While college bookstores have to cover overhead costs such as building expenses and utilities, a website would offer more flexibility and the opportunity to sell for less.
“We know what it’s like to have expensive textbooks that we need to buy new,” Ward said. “We want the student to have that option to say ‘No more bookstore.'”